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Refereed Papers


Track: Browsers and UI

Paper Title:
Validating the Use and Role of Visual Elements of Web Pages in Navigation with an Eye-Tracking Study

Authors:

  • Yeliz Yesilada(University of Manchester)
  • Caroline Jay(University of Manchester)
  • Robert Stevens(University of Manchester)
  • Simon Harper(University of Manchester)

Abstract:
This paper presents an eye-tracking study that examines how people use the visual elements of Web pages to complete certain tasks. Whilst these elements are available to play their role in these tasks for sighted users, it is not the case for visually disabled users. This lack of access to some visual elements of a page means that visually disabled users are hindered in accomplishing these tasks. Our previous work has introduced a framework that identifies these elements and then reengineers Web pages such that these elements can play their intended roles in an audio, as well as visual presentation. To further improve our understanding of how these elements are used and to validate our framework, we track the eye movements of sighted users performing a number of different tasks. The resulting gaze data show that there is a strong relationship between the aspects of a page that receive visual attention and the objects identified by our framework. The study also shows some limitations, as well as yielding information to address these short-comings. Perhaps the most important result is the support provided for a particular kind of object called a Way Edge---the visual construct used to group content into sections. There is a significant effect of Way Edges on the distribution of attention across tasks. This is a result that not only provides strong evidence for the utility of re-engineering, but also has consequences for our understanding of how people allocate attention to different parts of a page. We speculate that the phenomenon of `Banner Blindness' owes as much to Way Edges, as it does to colour and font size.

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